For 23 years, I felt invisible.
Even worse, I felt being invisible was better than being seen.
At some point in my life, my self-worth became intertwined with my appearance.
Looks became a priority. When I didn’t feel like I measured up, I wasn't happy with myself.
I had little to no confidence.
I’ve been body conscious since I started wearing a bra in the fifth grade.
Between failed diets, yo-yoing interests and standard teenage awkwardness, I didn’t stand a chance.
After college, I moved overseas for a year. I had barely any money and no connections.
I was completely clueless.
I had to decide what I was going to do.
I figured if I could survive in a foreign country without any help, I could damn well look at myself in the mirror and say, “I am beautiful, and anyone who doesn't agree can move along.”
My insecurities and I are never, ever getting back together.
Here are 12 ways my life changed when I decided I was hot sh*t:
1. My social life exploded, but in a good way.
Without the crushing weight of insecurity on my shoulders, I approached more people than ever before.
I was nervous, but I constantly told myself I was worth their time. If they disagreed, they could GTFO.
I chatted with bartenders and started conversations with random people in clubs and stores. I didn’t take it personally when people didn’t laugh at my jokes or wrote me off.
For every person who thought I was too weird to function, I found two more who enjoyed my presence.
Nothing about me had changed.
Yet, I was being seen. It was amazing.
2. I had more fun.
When you aren't consumed by your appearance, you experience life differently.
Everything felt more vibrant. I wasn't worried about what the basic people around me were thinking.
It was all about me, my happiness and my contentment.
As long as a smile was on my face, I let myself live in the moment.
3. I went on more dates.
I stopped letting rejection cripple me.
Everyone gets told "no" at some point, whether it's today, tomorrow or five years in the future.
We all have to deal with being rejected. The way we respond to rejection says a lot about our character.
I was petrified of being turned down by a guy. I disliked myself so much, I was afraid of someone else validating the insecurities I felt.
Once I started asking, I didn't get the responses I expected.
Imagine my surprise when I put myself out there and got a positive response.
Not every guy said yes, but seven out of 10 isn't bad at all.
Obviously, I'm hot AF.
4. I wore the clothes I wanted to wear.
I still hate shopping, but I'm not afraid to try on different styles of clothing.
I took the time to find what fits my personal style and body the best. Then, I combined the two.
My wardrobe may consist of jeans, flannels, t-shirts and A-line dresses, but they all make me look flawless.
I feel flawless too.
5. I took more risks.
When your whole life isn’t measured by how bad you think you look, you are far more likely to do crazy sh*t.
6. I had better sex.
When I say I had better sex, I mean I had toe-curling, "fall off the bed laughing" sex.
I stopped thinking about how my legs jiggled if I moved a certain way.
I didn’t worry about the fact that my boobs shimmied every minute.
I started telling myself he wouldn’t be having sex with me if he wasn’t interested. It’s not like I could hide what was under my clothes.
Sex became exciting, funny and empowering.
7. Food seemed to taste better.
I no longer felt like my favorite things had to be guilty pleasures. I stopped punishing myself for no reason.
Those fries were excellent, and the chocolate shake I dipped them in was even better.
8. My work performance improved.
It's amazing how much a little self-confidence can change your work ethic.
When you aren't constantly second-guessing yourself, you get more stuff done.
I improved my workplace efficiency by doubling the amount of stuff I completed in a work day.
I stopped hesitating over every detail, and I trusted myself to know what I was doing by that point. It worked.
My reports were praised.
I increased my sales per day.
I communicated better with clientele.
They responded to me because there was no trepidation in my voice and mannerisms.
I trusted myself to know what I was doing.
When I stopped doubting my ability to do things, I went above and beyond my own expectations.
9. I shared my opinions more often.
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
The moment I stopped victimizing myself, I took my power back.
I spent years feeling crushed under the weight of other people's judgments.
Allowing hurtful words, unrealistic expectations and past trauma to affect me was detrimental on a personal, academic and professional level.
Deciding that I was more than enough helped me speak my mind. Losing my fear of other people's opinions was a freeing experience.
I can never go back to being the timid, shy person I once was.
10. I stopped comparing myself to other people.
Women, in particular, are guilty of comparing themselves to other women.
We like to say, "Oh, I'm better than she is" or "She's so pretty, I should give up now."
I spent so long wishing I could look like someone else. I grew to resent the women I found prettier than me.
I classified myself as my friendship circle's DUFF, and I sunk into depression.
Envy can ruin friendships.
Once I stopped looking at every girl around me, I started to find things I liked about myself, like my eyes, my legs, my smile and my hands.
No one ever completely likes him or herself.
I will always want to change something about my body, but I've embraced everything that I am.
I've decided to love all of it anyway.
11. I treated my body with more respect.
Ironically, by telling myself I was beautiful, I started taking better care of my body.
I ate better, slept more and exercised five days a week.
It took deciding there was nothing wrong with me to actually get myself interested in fitness.
12. I took more photos.
Memories are precious, fragile things.
When I stopped cringing at every "terrible" picture of myself, I started laughing more and appreciating the reminders of happy moments with my friends.